35 Years of the Mandatory Abortion License

January 22, 2008 | 13 comments

35 years ago today the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to abortion, inagurating perhaps the most liberal abortion license in the West. 45 million have been aborted since. The number aborted each year has declined roughly since 1990 but around 1.2 million are still aborted each year. Roughly 10-15% of those aborted were past their first trimester.

We’ve had a lot to say about abortion over the years. I’ve put together the links here. Talk is nothing in the presence of these dead, but it’s all we’ve got.

Not By My Voice or the Voice of My Servants — addressing the argument that human life does not begin at conception because the revelations do not expressly say so. -more-

Blatant Media Bias on Abortionmore

Why Won’t They Call it ‘Partial-Birth Abortion’?more

National Abortion Federation v. Ashcroft and the Strange Career of Partial-Birth Abortion Bans more

Last year’s Abortion Retrospectivemore

New Advertisement Marks Anniversary of Roe v Wade– about Down syndrome abortions –more

A Practical Matter–an argument about the ability of male bishops to counsel women considering an abortion –more

Objectively Murder, Subjectively Only Like Unto It– an argument that one can recognize the full humanity of the fetal person without treating abortion as fully murder –more

Difference, Disagreement, and Contention–Jim Faulconer’s warning that talking too much about controversial issues like abortion makes it too easy for partisans on all sides to forget basic lessons in civility. –more

Changing Abortion Views–asking whether Mormons have got more pro-life as the rest of the country has –more

Abortion Yack–our thread for general abortion talk when we’ve posted on narrow abortion-related questions–more

Abortion Restrictions for the Fetus-Indifferentmore

Abortion, Conscientious Objectors, and Timingmore

Abortion Rights and the Two-Headed Baby more

Is it okay to be a Pro-Choice Mormon? more, or see immediately below

Ethical Incoherence and Abortion I, II, and III — a guest post and follow ups arguing that it cannot be the case that Church opposition to abortion compels its members to be pro-life or they would also be compelled to favor legal restrictions on adultery –more, more, and more

Religious Bigotry & Judicial Nominations–on the way abortion has distorted judicial nominations–more

Down Syndrome–”It is wicked to kill an unborn baby because the baby has Down Syndrome.” –more
Double X Syndrome– “It is wicked to kill an unborn baby because she is female. ” –more
Homosexual Genes–”It would be wicked to kill an unborn baby because that baby has genes for homosexuality.” –more

Beginning of Human Life – a doctor’s guest post. –more

Holocaust as Metaphor–touching on abortion rhetoric –more

Postfertilization Effects of Birth Control Methods –a doctor’s guest post. –more

Embryonic Stem Cell Research –a doctor’s guest post. –more

The Church “has not taken a position on the issue of embryonic stem cell research” –more

Bitter, Sweet –about having a Down Syndrome child –more

The Consolation of Doctrine (For Tessa, and All Who Love Her) –on miscarriages and stillbirths –more

Utah Legislature aims to challenge Roe v. Wade more

Why haven’t You Adopted an Orphan Child?more

Is it Right to Abort Unborn Disabled Babies? – a post arguing that aborting a disabled baby is not justifiable on the grounds the baby presents a serious health threatmore

21 Million Dollars for Live Child
–on ‘wrongful life’ lawsuits –more

Jailtime for “Murder” Moms?– more–

A Little Knowledge –on Down Syndrome prenatal testing –more

Excommunicating Pro-Choice Catholicsmore

Stem Cells with Promise more

Stem Cells, Part I more

The Lost Generation of Aborted Americans –wondering how our world would be different without abortion (and, in the comments, a question whether abortion might be a good thing because aborted children would be saved)–more

Insight on Babies – Matt Evans’ ultrasound company –more

A Detour to St. Blogs’ Parish – a celebration of heroic women who risk their lives to give their children life– and a woman who aborted two of her three triplets to avoid inconvenience –more

Children Are Not Optional
–some interesting comments –more–

Reproductive Rights–on the injustice of requiring men to pay child support where the life of the child is the mother’s “choice” –more

Judicial Activismmore

From the Archives: Millennial Children–my answer to the problem of miscarriages and stillbirths –more

Does History Matter?
– in the public debate about abortion? –more

Justice For Fornicators
– Nate Oman’s attempt to sketch a rationale for the Church’s abortion position. Very worthwhile. –more

Your Help on When Life Begins –a bleg for Church sources –more

Becoming a Human Being –the cursed Stone’s guest post. –more

Infertility –a doctor’s guest post –more

Is God an Ethicist?–on why God doesn’t give us clearer guidance on life issues –more

You Were a Blue Light Special at KMartmore

Pro-life, Pro-Constitution

Religion as Secular Epistemology –criticizing the argument “abortion is wrong. Therefore, a fetus is a life. Therefore, abortion is murder.”–more

Stem Cells, Part 2more

Jingoists for John Kerrymore


13 Responses to 35 Years of the Mandatory Abortion License

  1. Adam Greenwood on January 23, 2008 at 3:45 am

    Scene: a Stake President’s Office

    Stake President: Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow men?

    Some Chump: Yes.

    SP: What about your claim to have read all of the links in this post, which is manifestly impossible?

    SC: erm . . .

    [anyone else besides me paranoid that the SP will insert some negatives into the sentence just to see if you're paying attention?
    SP: Are you the opposite of not being honest in your dealings with your fellow men?
    Me: the opposite of not saying yes?]

  2. Kaimi Wenger on January 23, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Thanks for putting together this link collection, Adam. There have been a lot of blog discussions of abortion over the years, and it’s good to have them in one place.

  3. Howard on January 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    “Talk is nothing in the presence of these dead”

  4. Josh Smith on January 23, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Thanks for the links and the titles. I’ll read a few at lunch.

  5. greenfrog on January 23, 2008 at 12:42 pm


    I think we’ve talked about my particular perpective on abortion previously, so I won’t belabor it here, but because of it, I’m interested in the relative frequency of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester abortions. In your prefactory comments, you identify the percentage of 1st vs. 2nd/3rd combined. Do you happen to know of a data source that would disclose the proportions or the numbers from which I can derive proportions?



  6. Adam Greenwood on January 23, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute claims that about 10% of abortions occur in the second trimester and about 1% occur in the third trimester. That means that in 2007 about 120,000 were aborted in their second trimester and about 12,000 were aborted in their third trimester.

    If those same percentages have held since Roe, then about 4.5 million were aborted in their second trimester and about 450,000 were aborted in their third trimester.

    Since its the Guttmacher Institute those percentages probably aren’t inflated.


    Overall, I’d say about 1-2% of abortions are for the reasons that the Church does not condemn, but I don’t know how that breaks down by trimester. Abortion because the fetus is disabled probably mostly occurs after the first trimester and the figures I’ve seen for that are around, say, .5%. Presumably some of those are instances where the baby is so disabled that it won’t survive through birth (i.e., one of the Church’s possible exceptions), though I suspect most of them are just Down Syndrome babies or what not (something like 90% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted if the disability is detected before birth).

  7. greenfrog on January 23, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks, Adam.

  8. Bookslinger on January 24, 2008 at 3:43 am

    Adam, which of those posts would be a good place to pose the question:

    Have millions of abortions in the United States created a kind of societal vacuum that either draws, or allows space for, increased immigration, legal and illegal?

    Have employers been hiring illegal immigrants because we killed off many maids, cooks, waiters, busboys, nannies, landscapers, and construction workers before they were born?

    Have employers been clamoring for the issuing of more H1B visas because we killed off many computer programmers, accountants, technicians, scientists and doctors before they were born?

    Have employers been outsourcing jobs because workers’ wagers increased (due to the short supply of workers) because we killed off millions of workers before they had a chance to grow up and enter the work force?

    On another tack:

    As the baby-boomer generation retires, the oldest of those 45 million missing babies would be 35 now, still 25 to 30 years from retirement, and contributing to social security. We could have used them to pay into the system. The baby-boomer generation may reap what they sowed; kill your children, less people can support you in your old age.

    As the baby-boomer generation retires and enters nursing homes, many of those 45 million missing would have been the doctors and nurses who’d be taking care of the retiring baby-boom generation.

    On another tack:

    How many of the 45 million would have grown up to accept the restored gospel? Even just one tenth of 1% would be 45,000. Or 100 wards.

    Just points to ponder.

  9. Adam Greenwood on January 24, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I don’t think we’ve ever had a post on the demographic effect of abortion. That would be interesting to do sometime. Its pretty clear that we would not have 45 million more Americans without abortion, though. There’s a lot of evidence that many people forgo birth control because abortion is available but would use birth control if not. And, of course, even without Roe some states would have had a liberal abortion license.

  10. ECS on January 24, 2008 at 11:00 am

    The Freakonomics authors started a conversation a few days ago about the demographics of abortion on their NY Times blog. They (Steven Levitt and John Donohue) argue that abortion reduces crime levels because “unwanted children have an increased risk of growing up to be criminals, and legalized abortion reduces the number of unwanted children. Consequently, legalized abortion lowers crime in the future.”

    Here’s the link: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/what-do-declining-abortion-rates-mean-for-crime-in-the-future/#more-2250

  11. Todd Wood on January 24, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Adam, thanks for collecting this.

  12. Adam Greenwood on January 24, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Levitt’s argument that increased abortion, especially among blacks, led to a drop in the crime rate has been widely discredited.


    Don’t have an opinion on it one way or the other, myself. I do think it would be seriously wicked to encourage aborting a child because you think the child is statistically more likely than average to commit criminal acts when it grows up.

  13. Alison Moore Smith on January 27, 2008 at 2:06 am

    This puts a knot in my stomach the size of Mt. Everest. What have we become?


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